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Shawn meets up with two local Los Angeles mixologists to make cocktails unique to the LA area, using inspiration from California's famous citrus groves and the world famous Huy Fong sriracha factory.

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Transcript

- I'm Shawn Thomas and this is Local Flight, a show where I travel to some of the best bars in the country to meet amazing mixologists and challenge them to make innovative cocktails using unique local ingredients. My first stop, Los Angeles. I'm here to check out Melrose Umbrella Company, a brand new spot that plays host to some of LA's best mixologists. It's a stunning, post-prohibition era bar with a unique history, owned by Austin Melrose and award-winning bartender Zach Patterson. This place is absolutely beautiful. When I walk in, I feel like I've almost gone back in time. - We had a lot of fun building it. We discovered it was built in 1936. Prohibition lasted from '20 to '33. So the symbol for post-prohibition was an umbrella with rain falling from the inside which meant many wet days to come. - From that, we're like let's put up a name, something that references where we're at. - [Shawn] Umbrellas are a theme here, but the bar's logo holds the real story behind their name. - So that's actually the original silhouette that was published in a early 1900s newspaper of James Melrose, the Grand Old Man of York, my great-great-great grandfather, who was mayor of York, England. He always used an umbrella as a cane. - [Zach] Do you recognize the lady on the right? - [Shawn] Looks like the Queen of England there. - [Zach] All holding umbrellas. - You had to have known at that point that that was the name. It had to be Melrose Umbrella Company. - That was the photo that essentially sealed the deal. - All right. Well, all of these stories have made me thirsty, so let's get started. What do you say, guys? - All right, let's do it. All right. This is where I feel comfortable. - I got something special here, but before we get into that... - Does that mean I should make you something? - Yes, you should. - Okay, I'm gonna make one of the new cocktails that we're putting on the spring menu. Got a couple names in the works. I actually haven't named it yet. I'm either calling it I'm Late or Regal Rabbit. I'm really into blending spirits right now. I took Chivas 12 Year-- - Uh-huh. - and Laneco Reserva Rum, blended 'em equal parts. That gave me the base spirit that I wanted to play with which is a blend of rum and scotch. And then I put earl grey crema infusion in it. So all that together. Fresh, organic carrot juice, and when I was thinking about carrots, I was thinking about how I typically eat carrots and like them when I eat 'em. I like cooked carrots. Cooked carrots with brown sugar. - Okay. - So I did a cinnamon brown sugar syrup and I used Ceylon cinnamon, which is one of 11 genuses of cinnamon. Use a really light Combier. - It's an orange liqueur. I think the stuff's great. - Last but not least, our citrus component, which we're gonna do lemon juice. I'm just gonna get some good ice in there. Care to do the honors? - You want me to shake it? - You can give it a nice long, hard shake. There we go. Beautiful. - [Shawn] Wow. - [Zach] Look at that beautiful color, too. - [Shawn] Good color, yeah. - Little carrot garnish in here. Typically, since it's just you and me, I would pick this up and I would gulp half of it down to make sure it tastes as beautiful as I know it does. However, I'm allergic to carrots. - You're allergic to carrots? Are you deathly allergic to carrots? - Not deathly allergic. My girlfriend ended up walking in at one point while I was making it, and she goes, Zach your neck is all red and I'm saying I'm like, what are you talking about . - Like a mad scientist. Here goes nothing. Thank you, Zach. Appreciate this. Wow, man. That's really good. That is really, really good. You definitely get the cinnamon. I get a little bit of that lemon. Just enough to keep it lively on the palate, so... - Earl grey crema infusion gives it that beautiful, soft floral notes on the nose. - It's a great cocktail. Let's talk about your bar. It's absolutely beautiful. - So this little baby right here, apothecary shelf from 1890. We redesigned this whole thing to be a back loading glassware from the walk-in. I've never been to a bar or talked to a bartender that said, darn it I've got too much chilled glassware. - Let me show you what I brought you here. This, my friend, is the bag. - A brown bag. - A brown bag, and in this brown bag I have all this amazing produce I got from a great farm outside of Los Angeles, California. In 1936, Los Angeles was covered in citrus groves. So, I visited Mud Creek Ranch, a family-owned farm with 200 varieties of citrus, one of the most diverse groups of fruit in Southern California. And you guys are organic? - Yes, on this home ranch we're 100% organic. - That's fantastic. Not easy. - Lot of work. - How big a parcel of land are we talking about here? - [Steven] I have about 60 acres planted. - [Shawn] Wow. - Here's one of our older Australian Finger Limes. Try it-- - Okay. - You'll be pleasantly surprised. - Ooh . - I told you, yeah, there is little spines on them, so... - Yeah, I feel it. - [Steven] All citrus has thorns. - How's the color on this you think? - That's fine. That should be all right. - It almost looks like a little purple cucumber. Oh, oh wow. - [Steven] Doesn't have the real rich pink color yet, but it'll get it. - Look, it has this lime caviar there. - Isn't that neat? - Yeah. - Yeah, yeah, they're beautiful little trees. This is a bud sport. The top wood was a Satsuma Mandarin and the bottom was grapefruit root, but it's mostly a grapefruit flavored type fruit. It's airy like a Satsuma, but it has a nice flavor. I enjoy it. It makes great drinks with vodka. - Mmm. - Kinda unique. - Oh, yeah. - Has a little sparkly flavor over and above the grapefruit and I can't quite explain what it is, but pineapple or something? - I can see that. - Yeah. - Like, for me, with cocktails, it just has to have the smallest degree of bitterness. To me, that's what keeps you coming back. - It has a little bit, yeah. - It has just the right amount. - Yeah, yeah. - Just the right amount of sweetness. As a body of a drink, maybe, this would be a nice, light, juice to play with. - Well, you better take a few home and play with them. - Oh, I will. This is the perfect ingredient. A delicious hybrid fruit that pays homage to the history of the city, while representing the true melting pot of Los Angeles. It used to always be oranges in California, but now they've switched over to a wide variety of citrus, so that's what I've brought you is a wide variety of SoCal citrus. - Ha. - Did you know these? - Finger limes. - Yes, finger limes. As you know, yeah, crack it open. They got that great lime caviar, so I was hoping we could take some of it or all of it and incorporate it into a delicious cocktail and really capture that SoCal orchard feel. What do you say? - I say we take a little, small bar spoon here-- - Uh-huh. - And a little, we're gonna put just a hint of sugar on here-- - Okay. - This is a friend Matt Biancaniello showed me this one. He had a little bigger ones. Here, hold those for me real fast. - Sure, sure, sure. - I'm just gonna grab a little Cachaça. - [Shawn] Okay. - [Zach] We're making little mini Caipirinhas here. - Caipirinhas. That's amazing. - Cheers. - Cheers. Thank you. - That was beautiful. - So what do you think? I'm all yours. - Let's do this. - All right. - So I'm gonna juice this guy. This is gonna be delicious. - Cool. - I wanna go something light and beautiful. - Ah, yes. - Grey Goose La Poire I think is the perfect blend for that. All right, I'm thinking we're gonna do, I'm only gonna go quarter lime on this. - [Shawn] All right. - I'm gonna use half of an ounce grapefruit. I'm gonna take six white grapes-- - Okay. - Seedless. Give that a quick little muddle. Bust those grapes open. There we go. We'll do three quarter of an ounce Chardonnay. - [Shawn] I gotta tell ya, I've seen Vermouth before, but never just straight wine like that, so I'm excited to see how that plays. - That makes two of us . No, it should work just fine. And I'm thinking about doing 1.25 on the Grey Goose La Poire. - [Shawn] Okay. - And we're gonna get a half ounce aloe vera liqueur. I don't wanna go more than that because it carries a lot of sweetness to it. - Sure. - It's got a, also, really beautiful mouthfeel-- - Right. - That I think is gonna play perfectly with the pears. - [Shawn] All right. - Do that. I don't wanna go too long on this 'cause we're going over crushed ice. Nice little summer drink here. - [Shawn] Almost like a white sangria with a kick. - I'm picturing women in their spring dresses going out drinking. Gotta make it look pretty. The ladies like pretty things and so do I. This skin is gonna be amazing. Just see if we can express some of those oils. Rim around, get the legs. This is something that I'm having all my bartenders do right now. - I love that. - You know, I-- - So not only did you get the rim, you actually got the legs of the glass as well, so one, you're holding it-- - So that when you're holding it in your hands, you're actually-- - It's aromatherapy while you're drinking it. - And you know, I learned that when I was in France visiting the Grey Goose distillery. I went to a bunch of bars and it was one of the things I saw two of the bars did, and I always call it caress the legs. Make sure you caress the legs before you pass it off, so... - Thank you. Thank you for caressing the legs of my glass . - Any time, Shawn. - Well done. - [Zach] Yeah, that works? - Light, refreshing. Grapefruit and the grape go very well 'cause they're both very mellow citrus like that, so... - That Chardonnay just adds a beautiful body and length to it. - Mm-hmm, it's delicious, man. Really light, refreshing. Great summer drink. All right, so now we gotta name this thing. Elegant, it's sexy. What do you think? - The Summer Dress? - With legs like that? We call it the Summer Dress for sure. - Summer Dress. - Zach, thank you so much. Amazing bar, beautiful aesthetic, and the fact that you came up with such an amazing cocktail, I know people are gonna be really happy here. - Get back in here soon. - Oh, I'll be back. - All right. - I'll see you soon. - Later brother. - All right. In recent years, downtown LA has become the go-to hot spot for art, culture, and cuisine, and the Ace Hotel has all three. This gorgeous, gothic high rise was built in 1927 and originally housed Charlie Chaplin's United Artists Theater. There's more than one place to pull up a chair and relax here, but we're starting with the Mezzanine Bar, where I'm meeting up with Dan Sabo. - Shawn. - Hey. - What's up, man. Good to see ya. - Not much, man. It's great to be here. - Yeah, welcome. - I gotta tell you, the energy down there is incredible just walking in. It's a great crowd. It's a great space, man. - I have this really unique opportunity since we have LA Chapter, which is the restaurant-bar, and then we have the Mezzanine, which is sort of a secluded cocktail lounge, and then we have Upstairs, which is our rooftop cocktail bar. Anything that inspires me and any sort of flavor combination or technique or drink, I can find a home for. - That's awesome. Well, I'd love to try one of those cocktails. - Yeah, man. Let's do it. - All right. - I think the drink that we're gonna make for you is from the LA Chapter menu. - Okay. - Called a Sons of Capri. - Sons of Capri? - This drink was really inspired by California. So we start with an ounce and a half of Reposado Tequila, which I don't think you can make really a California drink without tequila. And then we're gonna do a half an ounce of Peach Divine or peach liqueur-- - Little sweeter, not as sharp. - Yeah, yeah, yeah. More of a neutral grain instead of a grape base. Not a brandy. - Okay. - [Dan] And then we're gonna use a Carciofo Amaro - [Shawn] Carciofo? - [Dan] Yeah, so an artichoke based amaro. - Aha. - For a little bit of acidity and sweetness, we're gonna do a quarter ounce of fresh squeezed pineapple juice. - Uh-huh. - We're gonna use a quarter ounce of Orgeat, which is almond syrup, and almond is the state nut. - Almond is the state nut. - [Dan] Almond is the state nut. - I'm learning new things everyday. - And then we're gonna do a quarter ounce of Amontillado Sherry. Think hazelnuts, a little bit of sweetness, a little bit of that funk. But it's gonna kinda tie the elements of the bitter and the sweet together. It's gonna create that bridge. And then a couple dashes of orange bitters. And then we're just gonna add some ice. - [Shawn] That looks delicious. - [Dan] Then we're gonna give it a, just to really send that tiki vibe home-- - [Shawn] Sure. Couple pineapple. - Acknowledge the pineapple, and then a couple scrapes of nutmeg-- - Nice. - Just for aromatics on top. - I almost don't wanna drink it, it looks so good. - [Dan] And there you go. - Cheers. - Cheers, man. - Thank you so much. - Enjoy. - The aroma is fantastic, right off the bat. Yeah, I can see what you're going for with that tiki. The Sherry dries it out. The pineapple gives it just the right amount of sweetness. I love bitter cocktails. It has that nice, bitter finish. - Thanks, man. - Yeah. I love the fact that you've come to California, now, from New York to open an amazing place like this in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, and you've captured the essence of California in a cocktail. How 'bout I take you, we go find an ingredient that really pays homage to the roots of Los Angeles-- - Okay. - We bring it back here and we make a cocktail. - Great. - Let's do it. - [Dan] Sounds good. - [Shawn] Los Angeles is known for its ethnic diversity. It's a global city, offering food and drink from just about anywhere in the world. Almost 50% of the city is Hispanic and Latino, and on a hot summer day, exotic handmade popsicles called paletas can be found on just about every street corner. As opposed to the factory-made versions found in every supermarket and corner store, Los Alpes, a family-owned business in Huntington Park, hand makes theirs fresh daily, using natural exotic ingredients. We're meeting up with Maria Soto, the owner of this 36-year-old institution. - My aunt originally opened this business in 1979. She actually went to Mexico to learn how to do this, brought that concept back over here and then opened her own business here. We took over about 10 years ago. She retired, and we took over, so it's still a family business. We still continue here. - It looks great. It's amazing how many flavors you have. - We take advantage of that we're in California-- - Lot of great produce. - I mean, it's like one season here. - A lot of produce here, and a lot of fruits, so you're able to find almost everything here. So you're each trying the Mamey, let me give you. - [Dan] Okay. - [Maria] This is a fruit. - How would you describe the taste? - Kind of subtle, creamy. I was gonna say smokey, but I don't know if that's the right description-- - Really? - Almost smokey, savory flavor, yes. - [Dan] Interesting. - All this color actually comes from the fruit itself, the Mamey itself? - Yes. - Like you said, there is a slight smoke, but it's almost like a really subtle red berry. - Yeah. - Not quite as acidic as like a raspberry; just under that. - It's one of those fruits that tastes like four different things that I know, and I just can't, it's great. - Yeah, I mean it's delicious. Put this one down and try the next one. - I mean unfortunately, yeah. I guess we will . - The best selling one would probably be the Mango con chile. - Mango con chile? - Yeah. - Cheers, man. Mm-hmm. - I mean, that's like all the things. - Sweet, spicy-- - Savory. It's got all of it going on. - Little salt. - You know, it's a very, very simple process. We start out by simply starting with fruit, chopping it up, adding sugar, salt in some cases, chile, depending on which one it is, cream, a little bit of water, and then brining them. The brine is where molds go in and they actually freeze in there. It's salt and water that they sit on and that's where they freeze. Sticking the stick in there, and bagging them and they're ready to go. So pretty simple process, and they're bagged and from there to here. We get a lot of returning customers, specifically because they are handmade, so we've had three generations still coming back. And they come back because they know it's a fresh product. They know that it's made here. - Well, I'll tell you, man, I mean, the amount of complexity here, I think we could easily use something like this for inspiration for-- - Oh, 100%. This is it. This is our flavor combination. - Okay. - But I have an idea of a way to sort of encapsulate even more of Los Angeles. - All right. - Yeah? - Lead the way. - Thank you guys. - Maria, thank you. - Thank you so much. - Muchas gracias. Thank you very much. - De nada. Enjoy. - Thank you, bye. Southern California as a whole is home to the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam. In Irwindale, David Tran has made a name for himself manufacturing what is quickly becoming the nation's favorite hot sauce, Sriracha. David came from Vietnam on a freighter with 3,000 other refugees in the late '70s and started by selling his sauce out of buckets to restaurants in Chinatown. Now, Huy Fong Rooster Sauce, named after the freighter, sells over 20 million bottles a year and is one of the most recognizable and beloved condiments in the world. We're meeting up with Sabrina Martinez to learn more about this storied institution. - [Sabrina] Pepper season is between August and November depending on our harvest. During that time, we receive about 100 million pounds of peppers. So when they're picked off the ground, between two to four hours from picking, they arrive here fresh. Once the peppers are all ground, they travel through our pipelines to our mixers. In those mixers, the base for all three products are made. - [Shawn] All right. This is the base for all your sauces? - The base for all three of our products, so whatever different product you're making, additional ingredients will be added and the sauce is made. - Awesome. - [Dan] Cool. - [Shawn] Every step of the process happens right here. Even the bottles get manufactured and printed inside the factory before they get filled. - So once our bottles are blow-molded and seal-screen pressed, they get filled, capped, and then sent on their way to be packaged. - [Shawn] There it is. There's that bottle. So many blue bottles. - [Dan] There are so many. - [Sabrina] Yeah, too many to count, right. - [Shawn] Too many to count? - [Sabrina] Too many to count. We don't even keep a count, so, yeah . - [Shawn] That many? - [Sabrina] That many. So these are our different products, chili garlic, Sriracha, and sambal oelek. Now, they all come from the same base as you learned on our tour. Sriracha and chili garlic are basically the same thing. Sriracha is pureed so you don't see our seeds. And sambal oelek doesn't have any sugar or garlic, which these two do. So they're all a little bit different in their own ways, but again, all coming from the same base. - All right, no garlic, no sugar. I taste the peppers more. - It's much purer, and it's amazing that you can get so much variation from the same base. - [Shawn] Yeah, exactly. - The wheels are turning, and I think it's a better fit that we should go play with this Upstairs at our rooftop bar. - Another venue. - Yeah. - All right, great. - I wanna see what happens. - I'm excited to check it out. - Cool. - [Shawn] Sabrina, thank you very much for your time. - You're welcome. - [Shawn] Taking us around. - Thank you so much. - You're welcome. - It was a pleasure. - We'll see you around. - See you. - Bye-bye. - Bye. Armed with a giant bottle of rooster sauce and the inspiration from the mango chile paleta, I'm excited to see how Dan is going to use these in a cocktail Upstairs at the Ace. All right, Dan, we are back, Sriracha in hand. - Here we go. - I'm interested to see what you're gonna do with this guy. - Yeah, should we dig in? - Yeah, let's do it. - All right, let's do it. So I think instead of just doing like mango and chile, do you wanna do like a mango fruit punch-- - Uh-huh. - With a little bit of spice and a kick to it. - [Shawn] All right, I love it. - So I think the best way to start with that is with the pear Grey Goose La Poire. - Sure, clean slate with a little bit of subtle pear flavor. - We're adding sort of a really nice off-dry pear base to it, which I think plays well with the mango. - Agreed. - So we'll start with an ounce and a half of that-- - Okay. - And then what we're gonna do is we made some fresh mango puree. Chop 'em up, add a little bit of water just for consistency's sake, 'cause we want that smoothness. - You did an ounce? - One ounce, yes. And then we're gonna do three quarters an ounce of ginger syrup. - Okay. - Then we're gonna add just a half ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice. - Okay. - Just for brightness, and then we're also gonna use some Benedictine. - Right. - So just a quarter ounce of that guy. - [Shawn] Sure, just to highlight. - It'll accent the spiciness of the ginger and will complement everything else. And then the last two kind of piéces de résistance, let's start with the Sriracha. - Okay. - The thing was hot. - Yeah, a little goes a long way with that stuff. - So we're gonna do five drops, and then because we want a little bit of that kind of umami that we had, that savory that was coming out of there-- - accentuate that salt. - Just a pinch of some sea salt. - [Shawn] That's some fancy salt, man. - [Dan] It's fancy salt. It's got a little tin. - It comes in a little tin. - It's a way to keep us from wasting too much. - I love it. I love it. - And then, the last thing just to up that sort of savory but add a little bit of the dark sweetness, we're just gonna add a dash of Aztec chocolate or mole bitters. - Mole bitters, nice. - Yeah. Ice. - Yes, sir. - [Dan] And I'm just gonna kinda run it through a strainer here-- - All right. - [Dan] Just to... Cool. And give it a little-- - Very nice. - Lime-ginger garnish. - [Shawn] Thank you, sir. - [Dan] There you go. - [Shawn] All right, here goes. Cheers. - Cheers. - Mango and pear, both very mellow. The Sriracha, so slight, so slight. I get it on the tip of my tongue and in the back of my tongue, but only after everything falls away. Try this. - Yeah. - The mango actually gives it that creamy mouthfeel that some of those paletas had. - But it's got this kind of savory, dark quality in the back. - Mm-hmm. It's on point. - I mean, it's not bad. - It's a good drink. - I think it's a great ode to Los Angeles-- - For sure. - And everything that's going on here. - All right. Now's the fun part. - Okay. - It's time to take what we've created here, everything that is Los Angeles, and we have to name this drink. - No pressure. - No pressure at all. - We could go in a very classic direction. We could try to name it after some Los Angeles landmark or street, but I gotta tell you, I have immediate associations with Mango-- - The character? - Played by Chris Kattan - From SNL. - From SNL. - I know the skit well, yeah. - It was like the greatest character of all time. Can you tell a rainbow to stop being a rainbow? Just for one second? - I don't know, can you? - No. Such is mango. - Such is Mango. - [Dan] Yeah, I think it defies explanation. - Such is Mango, mmm. Dan, I wanna thank you for coming along with me on this journey. - Yeah, thank you for having me. This has been great. - Thank you for your talent, your expertise. Beautiful bar. This has been amazing. - Thanks so much. - My pleasure, man. - Been a real pleasure. - Cheers. - Yeah. - I'll see you around. - See you soon. - All right, Dan, bye.